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m,Since the mid-1990s, the Canadian Forces (CF) has placed an increased
emphasis on: 1) rigorous, social scientific research in order
to better understand the human factor in operations; and 2) the
impact of operations on the mental health of military members.
Concurrently, and within the context of both a quick operational
tempo and an ever changing security environment, awareness
and diagnoses of operational stress injuries (OS Is), such as posttraumatic
stress disorder (PTS D), have increased markedly. As. simple evidence, contemporary
national newspapers frequently include articles dealing with such illnesses,
attributing onset to the
difficult mission that is Afghanistan, describing the militarys reaction
and assessing the impact on families.1 As a result, civilian and
military researchers, and the broader military community itself,
have become increasingly concerned with the potential adverse
impact of legitimate research on military members and with the
development of parallel strategies to mitigate risk to participants.
The need for timely, rigorous and innovative research in order to
facilitate mission success, however defined, has assumed an even
greater importance in a complex security environment characterized
by counter-insurgency, whole of government operations and
multi-national coalitions.2 In particular, the CF has recognized
that much more attention and resources must be directed towards
the rigorous examination of personnel in order to ensure their ultimate
success in the field and, of course, the maintenance of their
overall physical and mental health. Military personnel researchers
are, in fact, one of the fastest growing segments of the civilian
research community within Canadas Department of National Defence
(DND) today. Current personnel research ranges from issues
of quality of life for serving members and their families, to the effects
of increased and prolonged operational tempo, to issues impacting
on training, professional development, socialization and
retention. Such a list is inexhaustible. Yet how can such research,
important as it is, be conducted in a safe manner that minimizes risk to
the subjects of that research?
A recent, multi-year book project undertaken by the Canadian
Forces Leadership Institute (CFLI) provided the impetus for this
chapter; it also serves as a starting point from which the above
question might possibly be answered, if only partially. Very
briefly, the larger initiative involved the collection of first-person
accounts, as told by decorated veterans, of the circumstances